Living in Dorset, we are spoiled with the Jurassic Coast on our doorstep, but we always neglect visiting the north of the county.
When dropping Kian back at university in Bristol, I mentioned to my husband that I wanted to visit Shaftesbury and the famous Gold Hill.
Shaftesbury is a small market town in Dorset with a fascinating history going back to Saxon times, but has since found fame as the home of “that Hovis ad”.
We parked in the main town car park and set off to explore.
You can find Gold Hill on the main High Street, but blink and you will miss the alley way to get to it – you can find it between the church and the Town Hall pictured above.
Gold Hill offers a real “WOW” factor, as not only are the buildings stunning, but it offers unrivalled views over Thomas Hardy’s Blackmore Vale.
The view from the bottom of the hill doesn’t have the same impact, but it is worth wandering down to take in the view.
At the top of Gold Hill is the Salt Cellar Cafe, which serves a delicious range of snacks and cakes, all served with the benefit of the gorgeous view.
Behind the church is the Gold Hill Museum, a free to enter small museum dedicated to the town of Shaftesbury and its vibrant history.
The museum is set in two historic buildings. One was once the priest’s house and still has a “squint” through the wall to St Peter’s church; the other provided basic lodgings for traders at the market on Gold Hill.
There are eight galleries in total, which tell the story of rural and town life, starting before Shaftesbury’s notional foundation by Alfred the Great.
It is full of fascinating exhibits and facts about the town, including the bike from the Hovis advert and I am looking forward to taking the kids back for a visit soon.
Shaftesbury is also home to Shaftesbury Abbey and Gardens, built by King Alfred in around 888 and was the first religious house solely for women.
Sadly we didn’t have time to head inside, as we had to get back to pick the kids up from school, but we are planning on heading back very soon to take on the ancient tree walk and find out more of the towns history.
Shaftesbury is a lovely small town to visit, with a market and lots of local artisan shops. We will certainly be visiting again!
Have you been to Shaftesbury?